Patrick Kennedy Can’t Get Out Of His Own Head

bars Too bad, because that’s where he does most of his thinking.

Former congressman, and outspoken opponent of marijuana reform, Patrick Kennedy is in a snit: Lifespan has backed out of hosting a planned conference in which medical and addiction professionals were apparently prepared to discuss — without irony — the need to sweep marijuana users into the criminal justice system for their own good. (Lifespan’s statement is included in the article at ProJo 2.21.14.)

Kennedy has always had trouble seeing beyond his personal, and not in any way typical, experiences with substance abuse, and the larger issue of the mass incarceration of minorities and people of color resulting from our futile war on drugs. Reforming marijuana laws is primarily about addressing this latter social justice issue.

What makes Kennedy’s experience with drug abuse so atypical is that in spite of all his widely publicized, and overtly obnoxious, interactions with law enforcement — crashing his car into a D.C. traffic barrier, assaulting an airport security guard, and whatever that thing involving the Coast Guard was — Patrick Kennedy has never spent one day in prison. Due to his status as a privileged, affluent, white male — armed with connected lawyers and legally obtained prescriptions — he has had the luxury of treating his addiction as a personal health issue for which he could seek treatment and counseling. But tough luck for you if you get yourself busted.

This country has spent forty years applying law enforcement solutions to the public health problem of drug use, and all we have to show for it is families torn apart, neighborhoods gutted, and a nation that incarcerates more of its citizens per capita than any other nation in the world. Marijuana reform hopes to address a part of that problem.

(Beth Comery is a member of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose